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El Paso County Cuts Off “Shirtless Sheriff” Maketa

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Matt Steiner reports, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa may have survived a recall attempt against him as he defiantly serves out his final days in office after an explosive sexual misconduct/cronyism scandal, but the county is done paying for the expensive legal representation he's been enjoying:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will be on his own if he wants to continue using high-profile defense attorney Pamela Mackey to defend recent accusations against him.

Senior assistant county attorney Diana May reiterated that the county would no longer pay for Mackey's services in a July 17 letter obtained by The Gazette that highlights ongoing friction between the county attorney's office and the Sheriff's Office. The county had agreed in early June to hire Mackey temporarily for a fee of $250 per hour with a cap of a $10,000. The county commissioners needed to approve anything above that amount.

"El Paso County did not authorize your retention past the initial $9,999 engagement," May wrote in a letter to Mackey. "That engagement has concluded."

Mackey, who previously represented professional athletes Kobe Bryant and Patrick Roy, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It's not unreasonable for an organization to defend an employee in erstwhile good standing, but El Paso County Sheriff Maketa is serving out the last months of his term against the wishes of the county's leadership. After claims seeking almost $4 million in damages over Maketa's professional and personal improprieties, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners took a vote of no confidence in Maketa and asked for his resignation. Maketa's refusal to go away quietly after this massive disgrace has greatly worsened the embarrassment felt by his former political allies–from fellow sheriffs who followed his lead in last year's recalls and anti gun control litigation, to those who believed Maketa's political future beyond elected law enforcement was very bright.

Today they're just waiting for the end, which can't come soon enough for everyone except Terry Maketa.

What’s up with conservatives and the Ten Commandments?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Charlton Heston.

Charlton Heston.

Why are the 10 Commandments so attractive to conservatives that talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt doesn't blink an eye when gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez says we should "go back" to the 10 Commandments to restore "some order in society."

Beauprez: "That's why God gave Moses those 10 Commandments, wasn't it, to keep some order in society. And I think that's what we've got to go back to."

Beauprez brought up the Commandments as part of his solution to the immigration tragedy along the border.

If I were Hewitt, I'd have asked how not coveting they neighbor's wife, not using the lord's name in vain, and not being an atheist would help the teenage migrants.

Worse is the free pass from real reporters that a candidate for U.S. Senate, Rep. Cory Gardner, gets for his support of "public posting the 10 Commandments."

It's one thing for Beauprez to push moral fortitude via the Commandments; it's another for Gardner to endorse state sponsorship of religious material.

Where does Gardner want such postings? Courts? Schools? DMV? He deserves to be asked.

(more…)

Caption This Photo: Chris Christie and Both Ways Bob

As forwarded to us from today's Republican Governors Association fundraiser in Denver featuring Colorado GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez. What might the East Coast's most famously vindictive governor and our own Both Ways Bob have said to one another today? Another lecture on Colorado's "quality of life?" Thoughts on managing traffic flow across major bridges in Democratic areas?

We shudder to think, but you probably have some ideas here.

beauchristieadjusted

UPDATE: FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie barreled past a small group of protestors and into Sam’s No. 3 Wednesday afternoon, saying hello to midday diners and posing for photographs before making his way to a back room and holding forth before a bevy of television cameras and reporters.

There, during a 15-minute exchange, Christie said the Republican Governors Association is planning to strongly support Bob Beauprez, the GOP nominee in Colorado’s upcoming governor’s race while proudly doubling down on the comments he made three months ago criticizing the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana and its quality of life.

“I’m not backing off an inch from what I said,” Christie told reporters. “What I said was what I believe. I think legalizing marijuana is the wrong thing to do.”

When Gardner Praised Udall…

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman takes us on a trip down memory lane–before U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's career depended on disparaging everything that Sen. Mark Udall and other Democrats have ever said or done:

The recent battle over fracking in Colorado quickly entered Colorado's Senate race and the latest tiff involves Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) caught on tape a couple years ago praising his opponent on oil and gas policy.

"I believe, as Governor Hickenlooper believes, as Senator Udall has said, that the decisions on fracking ought to be made at the local level," Gardner says in the video, provided to 9NEWS by the Udall campaign. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner was responding to a question from a voter at a 2012 town hall event in Berthoud, Colorado…

Now before anybody gets too excited:

In the video, Gardner goes on to clarify that he meant states should control fracking as opposed to the federal government, adding, "I believe that [fracking policy] ought to be deferred to the state, just as Governor Hickenlooper does."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

So no, Gardner was not making a statement that could be interpreted as endorsing the local control ballot initiatives underway this year. That said, this little vignette courtesy 9NEWS is a useful reminder that Republicans in Colorado don't really have much of a case against Colorado Democrats on pro-energy policy. After Sen. Udall announced his opposition to the local control ballot measures, Republicans continued to attack him with the same intensity. But the fact is, Udall's longstanding support for a balance between energy development and conservation is much closer to the mainstream in Colorado than "drill baby drill"–and that's why the polls consistently show Udall is better trusted on energy policy and the environment than his opponent.

There was a time, as you can see, when the trust the public places in Udall (and yes, even Gov. John Hickenlooper) on energy and the environment worked to Gardner's advantage as he tried to demonstrate how his views were mainstream views. There is a possibility that this November, the voters of this state will push the frame of the debate over drilling in Colorado well to the left of any of these politicians' comfort zones.

Either way, it's better to define the center than attack it.

PPP: Udall, Hickenlooper 44%, Gardner, Beauprez 43%

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Today's release from Public Policy Polling reaffirms the present dead heat in Colorado's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper clinging to statistically insignificant leads over their Republican challengers:

PPP's new Colorado poll finds the exact same numbers in the races for both Governor and the Senate- Democratic incumbents John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall are clinging to 44/43 leads over their challengers Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner respectively.

In the Governor's race this represents a significant tightening over the last four months. In March we had found Hickenlooper leading Beauprez 48/38. Since that time though Hickenlooper's approval rating has dropped a net 10 points, from 48/41 then to now 43/46. And Beauprez's net favorability has improved 14 points from 20/33 then to now 31/30. That movement's come largely among Republicans- he's gone from 33/22 to 57/12 within his own party as it's unified in the wake of last month's primary.

The closeness in the Senate race is nothing new though. Our last four polls have found Udall with leads of 2, 2, 4, and now 1 point. This is shaping up as yet another key Senate contest this year where the early blitz of negative advertising has left both candidates unpopular. Udall has an upside down approval rating at 36/47, but Gardner's not a whole lot more well liked with 34% of voters rating him favorably to 39% who have a negative opinion.

beauprezdemsfear​Read the poll's full results here.

These numbers confirm a trend we've seen in other recent polling: a swift closure of the gubernatorial race as GOP nominee Bob Beauprez consolidates post-primary support and Hickenlooper recovers from a tough few weeks in the press, while the U.S. Senate race remains extremely tight with little movement in the last few weeks. We continue to foresee trouble for Beauprez as the press examines his far-right record, which hasn't happened even as Hickenlooper has faced what will likely be the worst press of the campaign stemming from his disastrous appearance in front of hostile county sheriffs. The same lies ahead for Cory Gardner, though it's arguable that Beauprez will prove easier to marginalize due to the sheer extremity of Beauprez's past statements–not to mention Gardner's slick deceptiveness.

Looking down the ticket, undeniably troubling indicators for Colorado Democrats–demonstrating the significant challenge ahead for them this year after years of political dominance. Many voters are undecided, but Republican candidates for Treasurer, Attorney General, and Secretary of State all hold leads well outside this poll's margin of error. Republicans also hold a 45-38% advantage in the poll's generic legislative ballot. Even if trends in the top-ticket races stabilize in favor of the Democratic candidates as we expect, Democrats need to recover downballot to avoid a divided state government in 2015–potentially much more divided than was the case in 2011-12, when the GOP held a one-seat House majority.

Can Democrats get it done? Absolutely–the record shows that the polls consistently underestimate Democrats in this state, as they did in 2010 when the "Republican wave" broke on the Rocky Mountains.

But anyone on either side who feels confident today is a fool.

Suthers Same-Sex Marriage Obsession Will Prove Costly to Republicans

John Suthers, Don Quick.

Attorney General John Suthers (left) is making things easier for Democrat Don Quick to win in November.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers continues his obsession with trying to stop county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite repeated court rulings that strike down bans on same-sex marriage.

On Monday, Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz decided to stop issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples after dealing with what his office called "legal threats" from Suthers. Said Ortiz in a statement:

"I stand by the initial decision I made and still believe that an individual's constitutional rights outweigh a law that discriminates against American citizens. As the Attorney General has admitted it is only a matter of time before Marriage Equality is validated by the Supreme Court of the United States. In light of the Attorney General's threat of litigation, and the Colorado Supreme Court's recent order, I have decided to avoid adding to the Attorney General's already heavy sum of wasteful litigation in this matter. Pueblo County will wait for further clarification on the constitutionality of a clearly unconstitutional law."

We continue to be perplexed by Suthers' strange obsession with defending a ban that courts have repeatedly ruled to be unconstitutional. Suthers has been rumored to be looking at running for Mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015, so perhaps he views his defense of a same-sex marriage ban as something that may help him with a highly-conservative Colorado Springs electorate. But the writing is on the wall here — and has been for a long time — and support for marriage equality among the broader electorate is rising as well. The term-limited Suthers may not have any real interest in being on the same side as public opinion, but that's not a problem that Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman can just ignore.

As chief deputy in the Attorney General's office, Coffman may feel compelled to stand behind her boss on this issue, but voters won't be impressed. Coffman has penned OP-EDs supporting Suthers and his dogged defense of an obviously-doomed law, but the debate has opened up a huge opportunity for Democrat Don Quick to differentiate himself with voters. As Quick wrote in his own recent OP-ED:

Recently in this paper, Cynthia Coffman, the chief deputy attorney general and my opponent in November's election for Colorado attorney general, attempted to defend her position of continuing the defense of Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage. Coffman implied that the reason her office is still defending Colorado's ban is that the Attorney General's Office is required to defend all Colorado laws, even if there are grave doubts about their constitutionality. That's not true, and Ms. Coffman knows it…

…The attorney general's job is to be a champion of Coloradans' rights, not to search for an excuse to deny them. Coffman and her office were not forced to obstruct gay and lesbian Coloradans' fundamental rights, they chose to. If elected attorney general, I'll make a different choice.

In a busy election season with several high-profile races on the ballot, the race for Attorney General might have become an afterthought has Suthers not blown the contest open. Quick and other Democrats may benefit significantly at the polls as a result.

Aurora Shooting Victim’s Dad Calls Out Mike Coffman

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

​Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, in which 12 people were killed and some 70 injured after a gunman burst into the theater and began shooting indiscriminately. Since that time, the debate over gun policy has raged in Colorado and across the nation, with both sides honoring the victims of gun violence while disagreeing about the solution.

But apparently, as this statement we received from the father of a victim of the Aurora shootings says, some politicians can't even be bothered to commemorate this tragic event only two years later. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex Sullivan died in the Aurora theater shooting, has this to say about Aurora's representative in Congressman Mike Coffman:

One day before the two-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting – in which 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded – Representative Mike Coffman came back to Aurora to hold meetings with constituents.  But Rep. Coffman has not yet taken action to honor the victims of the Aurora shooting and keep guns out of dangerous hands. Tom Sullivan, the father of Aurora victim Alex Sullivan, released the following statement:

"Two years ago my son Alex was killed.  He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time – he was at the movies to celebrate his birthday.

"I'm disappointed to see Rep. Coffman come back to Aurora the day before the anniversary, but not honor the tragedy with action.  He has not yet supported federal legislation that would do what we've already done here in Colorado – close the loophole that allows criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without a background check.  We know this solution works because since the law went into effect last year, dangerous people are already being blocked from buying guns. 

"I hope Rep. Coffman does the right thing and honors the victims of that horrible tragedy with action in Washington, not more partisan excuses."

According to Coffman's Facebook page, he attended the Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake in west Denver on Saturday, as well as constituent meetings at MLK Library in Aurora. But in addition to Sullivan's point about Coffman having taken no action in Washington on gun safety as Aurora's representative, we can't find anything from Coffman acknowledging the 2nd anniversary of the Aurora shooting at all. There were several events this weekend, including a tree-planting event at Aurora's new Hope Park attended by Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan–but Coffman wasn't listed as a guest. We haven't seen anything on Coffman's campaign or congressional websites, campaign or official Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, or anywhere else to indicate he commemorated the shooting anniversary in any way.

If Coffman did do anything to observe the most tragic event suffered by his district in many, many years, he apparently didn't want anybody to know about it. And we don't have a good explanation for that.

WSJ: Gardner Pinned By “Personhood”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

An excellent story from the Wall Street Journal's Beth Reinhard today explains in depth to a national audience the ongoing problem faced by GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner we've been talking about for months–his halfway flip-flop away from longstanding prior support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives that have failed repeatedly on the Colorado statewide ballot. In addition, Gardner faces growing questions about his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, which contains matching language from the Personhood abortion bans that would also outlaw common forms of birth control. Today's WSJ story is behind a paywall, so here's a teaser–go subscribe, or find a friend with a subscription to read the whole thing:

Rep. Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for a Senate seat in Colorado, is trying to move away from the thorny issue of "personhood."

His problem is that neither his foes on the left nor some friends on the right will let him.

Shortly after entering the race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in February, Mr. Gardner disavowed his past support for the idea at the heart of the personhood movement, which is to give a fertilized egg the same rights as a person, thereby outlawing abortion and some forms of birth control. In backing away, he even called for the sale of birth control over the counter…

"Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he's throwing that away for greater political aspirations," said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, the lead sponsor of the ballot question. [Pols emphasis]

Mr. Gardner has said he changed his mind because Colorado voters twice rejected constitutional amendments on the issue, in 2008 and 2010. He also said he hadn't realized that access to birth control could have been affected. Mr. Gardner is listed as a co-sponsor of a House bill that says life begins at conception.

As we discussed last Wednesday, Gardner's continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act, while claiming to have disavowed Colorado's Personhood abortion bans, creates a major conflict. Both the Personhood abortion ban amendments and the Life at Conception Act contain the same language about human life beginning "at the moment of fertilization." This language is what would have the consequence, either intended or not, of outlawing so-called "abortifacient" forms of birth control. Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews asked Gardner's campaign about this apparent contradiction, and was told by Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano that the federal abortion ban bill would make "no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges."

But that's not true. It's the same language. At some point, this false distinction is going to burn Gardner's campaign yet again.

In the meantime, as the WSJ makes clear, Gardner still has a big problem. Even the most GOP-friendly polling in this race shows that this issue has already given Gardner's opponent Sen. Mark Udall a commanding lead with women voters. On the other side, the pro-life right wing is equally upset with Gardner's "pandering" to the left by backing off of what was previously a no-compromise stand against abortion under any circumstances.

Bottom line: there's a very simple reason why Gardner and his campaign affects exasperation with having to answer questions about banning abortion over and over, wondering aloud why reporters can't come up with "something else to talk about."

Like Ken Buck before him, this could be the issue that sinks Cory Gardner.

“Honk for Cronk” for State Representative

My campaign for HD37 is going extremely well!. While we may not be in the Colorado Pols Top Ten Races, we are not far behind (possibly 12th?), and have a serious chance at pulling out a surprise win in the southern suburbs. Here’s why:

1. It’s an open seat with a history of close races. In 2006, Angela Engel (D) received 49% of the vote. Other races since have remained in the high 40s, even with several non-aggressive D candidates.

2. I was drafted to run by a vacancy committee when Marlo Alston dropped out of the race in April. At the time, I was also running for re-election to the local Fire Board.

3. I won re-election to the Cunningham Fire Protection District on May 6th, netting the top vote count out of seven candidates. I did it by talking to R’s, D’s, U’s and I’s alike. My philosophy of respecting our workers while safeguarding our citizen’s tax money is appreciated (shout-out to CPFF Local 3027!). We started campaigning for HD37 the very next day.

4. In six weeks, from May 7th, until the June 25th filing, I raised $9000. We’re still rockin’ it.

5. My opponent — and I have nothing bad to say about him (we are running a clean, positive campaign) — lost a Centennial City Council race to Democrat CJ Whelan, another member of the CFPD Fire Board.

6. I’ve lived in the S.E.Aurora/ E. Centennial area for 24 years and have raised a family there. I have good name recognition in my district from years of volunteering for non-profits and in the public schools.

7. My full-time campaign manager and I talk to everyone we can — and we listen. You don’t get more grassroots than that.

8. Representative John Buckner, a friend to unions, to teachers and to working families (as am I), won his election two years ago in the formerly GOP district just north of mine, and won it by a 13 point spread! We only need 5 points. He did it doing the same thing we are doing.

9. The Centennial area is changing demographically. While knocking on doors, I’m seeing many people who are fed up with the extreme partisanship, obstructionist politics, and radical agendas of the far right. Door after door, people are telling us they want common sense, compassion, and community. They want grown-up politics, positive messaging, and good ideas. They point to negative fliers cluttering their porches (Gardner v. Udall, mostly), then hold up our positive literature and tell me it is “refreshing”.

In the last two days, I’ve had three registered Republicans tell me they were going to vote for at least one Democrat this time around. One said, “I don’t hate my gay neighbors, and I am tired of people telling me I should.” Another one said, “The gun debate has gotten out of control. I have guns but I think background checks are fine.” The third told me, “The Affordable Care Act was good for my business.”

10. We’re getting great press.
Elect Nancy Cronk for State Representative
District 37 Democrat Makes Late Entry
Cronk Seeks To Turn HD37 Blue

Come walk with us and see for yourself! It just might make you believe in community-based representation again! If you can’t walk, or you don’t have time to join us, please contribute here: http://www.NancyCronk.com.

An Assessor, a Sugar Daddy, and “Infilling” Open Space in El Paso County

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Something is rotten in El Paso County.

 It’s not the persistent dank from the recent flooding.  It’s not the shower mold from Sheriff Maketa’s selfies.  There is, however, quite a stench wafting from the recent campaign finance violation of the El Paso County Tax Assessor, Mark Lowderman. Lowderman sent out 20,000 campaign mailers on the taxpayer’s dime.  Ostensibly informing seniors about a tax credit, the mailers described Mr. Lowderman in glowing terms, coincidentally, the same terms as his campaign literature.  A complaint was filed, Lowderman was fined and penalized $14,580, yet is running unopposed for the County Treasurer’s office, and  will almost certainly be the next El Paso County Treasurer. Matt Lowderman, Candidate for El Paso County Treasurer

The El Paso County Commissioners appear to be no more concerned about Lowderman's ethical lapse than they were about Sheriff Maketa's hijinks.  The Commissioners "circled the wagons" to protect Maketa for years, according to an insider source. The County Comissioners also had to have known about Lowderman's ethical lapses – yet there is no record of any censure of the Assessor. The Board of Commissioners is reputed to be marshalllng resources to overturn the Administrative Judge's ruling on Lowderman's finance complaint. El Paso is apparently the swamp where ethics go to die. "At every turn, it's dirty," said an informed source.

That would explain the smell. Wafting from the swamp is the funk of the aggregate $17,500 campaign donations Lowderman received from David Jenkins, Chairman of Nor'wood Development Corporation, the largest property owner and developer in El Paso County, within 10 days of Jenkins buying the biggest parcel of property in the County – the legendary Bannings / Lewis Ranch. Donations to Lowderman's campaign for Treasurer were dated May 30 – June 2, 2014. The Banning- Lewis property sale was announced by Nor'wood on June 10, 2014.

(more…)

Making a Joke of the IRS “Scandal”

WCSLogo

As reported by the UK Daily Mail's U.S. political editor David Martsoko from the Western Conservative Summit this weekend in Denver–apparently, Centennial Institute director and WCS organizer John Andrews has found a slick way around his group's pesky 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity status, which ordinarily would not allow the WCS to talk about political candidates and the upcoming 2014 elections:

'Sirloin' and 'tofu' have become code words for 'Republican' and 'Democrat' in Colorado, and a former right-wing state legislator assigned liberals the role of pressed bean curd during a conservative convention in Denver.

John Andrews, president of the Colorado state Senate until 2005 and now Director of the Centennial Institute – an affiliate of Colorado Christian College – told a crowd estimated at 3,000 that speakers at the three-day session would not be permitted to talk about candidates, parties or elections…

'You have probably noticed that as we brought out Bob Beauprez and Cory Gardner, that something was missing,' he said. 'Something was not said about them or by them about how they're spending 2014.'

'I can give you the reason why in two words: Lois Lerner.'

'…So let's just make this agreement … If you form a mental association between "Republican" and "sirloin," and between "Democrat" and "tofu," and I was to say to you that every time I whiff Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner it makes me wanna eat more sirloin and less tofu, you would know what I was talking about, right?' [Pols emphasis]

Note how Andrews invoked Lois Lerner, the former IRS official vilified by the right as part of the scandal over conservative-leaning groups "singled out" for scrutiny of their tax-exempt status applications. The truth of that story is not nearly so simple, or in the end controversial–many left-leaning organizations faced the same level of scrutiny as conservative ones. Nonetheless, it's become a part of the vast body of anti-Obama mythology accepted on faith by the conservative base today.

But never mind all that, because John Andrews just made a joke of the whole thing! It's tough to imagine a better way to justify IRS scrutiny than to start your 501(c)(3) "nonprofit" convention by explaining the event's partisan political code language. Might the IRS decide that's too ridiculous a pretense to ignore? Would Andrews still claim he's being persecuted if the IRS asks for a little clarification?

Hopefully. And probably.

Everybody And Their Mother Comes Out Against Local Control

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper's press conference yesterday kicking off the opposition campaign against two local control ballot measures championed by Rep. Jared Polis left no confusion about where the governor stands–as if there ever was any.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said two ballot measures aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling would damage the state's economy and must be defeated…

"It is clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state's economy," Hickenlooper said. "These measures risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and millions of dollars in tax revenue."

…Hickenlooper said Initiative 88 is the opposite of local control, for it sets a "arbitrary limit" across the state with no room to adjust it locally.

As for Initiative 89, Hickenlooper questioned whether local governments would have "the sophistication" to enforce it.

Via Gannett's Raju Chebium, Rep. Polis responds:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said one measure he wants to include on the state's November ballot would give local governments the power to approve or reject fracking operations without fear of reprisal from the oil and gas industry. Another measure would allow residents to decide how far fracking wells should be from their homes and businesses.

Fracking may be appropriate far from residential neighborhoods and in rural and industrial areas, but communities must have the ultimate say over whether the wells can sprout up nearby, he said.

"It's perfectly reasonable for residents to feel that it shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods. That should be up to them if they want it," Polis said. "If Loveland residents want fracking, they should be able to have it. If Fort Collins residents don't, they shouldn't be sued." [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that despite the swift closing of ranks against these initiatives on the part of Democratic insiders, Rep. Polis remains fully committed to passing them. The fact is, whatever fear has been put into establishment Democrats about consequences from running these initiatives, Polis can defensibly argue he is simply representing his district–where three cities have already passed moratoria, and in the case of Lafayette an outright ban, on hydraulic fracturing. That's a point getting lost as Democrats across the state–Mark Udall, Andrew Romanoff, Ed Perlmutter, and many others–fall in line behind Hickenlooper in opposition to these ballot measures, and the chattering class groupthink ramps up against them.

One of the most popular arguments against these initiatives aimed at Democrats is the assumption "certainty" that they will hurt Democratic electoral prospects this November, either directly or indirectly from the resources expended in the fight. We continue to see a plausible scenario wherein Democrats benefit from these initiatives by stoking turnout, even as individual Democratic candidates give themselves cover by opposing them. Today, as Democrats disappoint conservationists with their stand against local control, they still know Democrats are closer to their position than Republicans will ever be. While these initiatives might be setting up 2015 for a divisive blue-on-blue fight over the issue, that doesn't mean the damage will be felt at the polls this year.

And it wouldn't be the first time the voters proved bolder than the leaders.

Democrats Call Out Beauprez’s “47% Moment”

A press release from Colorado Democratic Party chairman Rick Palacio this morning:

"Clearly Congressman Beauprez thinks he's better than Colorado's seniors, veterans, firefighters, students and hard-working families in our great state," Palacio said. "Instead of apologizing for his ridiculous and derisive comments, Congressman Beauprez stood by his remarks claiming that half of the population are freeloaders who are "perfectly happy" that someone else is paying the bill," said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

There are lots of politically self-destructive on-record moments for Bob Beauprez awaiting publicity, and although we've discussed a few of them in this space, the majority of that material has not been seen by Colorado voters. Democrats are right to zero in on Beauprez's "47% speech" early, given the similarity of his remarks to those made by Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. For Romney, this was a gaffe from which his campaign arguably never recovered, and in hindsight was probably his fatal mistake. It's just too easy, as Colorado Democrats show in this video, to alienate such politicians from ordinary voters by explaining how, whether they realize it or not, they are either part of that 47% or know someone who is.

Once that sinks in, it's easy to make the case that Beauprez–like Romney–doesn't have their best interests at heart.

Steve King Running Out of Timecards to Punch

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

State Sen. Steve King (R), man of many time cards.

Republican State Sen. Steve King officially withdrew from the race for Mesa County Sheriff on Tuesday, a decision that had become largely unavoidable and may end up being just the beginning of a larger investigation. As the Denver Post reports, King has yet to explain how he was able to juggle three different government jobs at the same time:

The investigation now includes timecards for his work as acting coordinator of campus security and training at Colorado Mesa University from July 2012 to December 2013.

Timecards show King worked as many as 194 hours a month at the university while also working as a Republican state senator and working part-time at the sheriff's office. He had been an investigator for the sheriff's office before he was elected to political office as a representative for District 54 in 2006 and then as a senator for District 7 in 2010.

While those of you outside of the Grand Junction area may not be particularly interested in who becomes the next Mesa County Sheriff, King's sloppy shenanigans may yet ensnare more public officials. For years officials at Colorado Mesa University (formerly Mesa State University) have been suspected of providing a safe landing spot — or a place to cool their heels until the next campaign — for Republicans such John Marshall, Bob Beauprez's campaign manager in 2006, as well as various family members and friends of former State Sen. Josh Penry.

It's telling that the editorial board of the Grand Junction Sentinel didn't mince words in saying good riddance to King:

That’s not even taking into account an ongoing criminal investigation by a special prosecutor. The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office is looking at whether King committed any crimes while he was employed by three different publicly funded entities: the state Legislature, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado Mesa University. The Sentinel’s examination of King’s timecards and claims for reimbursement paints a troubling picture, to say the least…

…With the criminal investigation hanging over his head, it’s doubtful King will ever hold another government job. But that’s the least of his worries. We’re just glad he’s dropped his bid to be our next sheriff.

We've no doubt that King's time-card shuffle was making a lot of Republicans nervous as it drew more attention to the practice of hiring so many "at-will" positions at Colorado Mesa University. King's withdrawal from the sheriff's race may end this particular line of questioning, but his candidacy in general may have opened a few doors that were intended to remain closed.

Democrats Outraising Republicans 5-1 in Key House Races

Earlier this week we took a look at the bizarre string of late-entry and replacement candidates that Republicans have fielded in a number of key State House races. In order to gain control of the State House, Republicans need to win at least 5 seats this fall — without losing any incumbent legislators — which is a mountain that may be too tall for the GOP to climb in 2014.

As a Colorado Pols analysis of fundraising results in key House districts shows, Democrats are raising significantly more money in competitive House districts compared to their Republican counterparts. We took a look at 12 of the top House districts (you can argue that your list of top races would look a little different, but you get the point), and through July 1, 2014, Democrats had raised more than $500,000, while Republican candidates combined for just a tad more than $100,000.

While so-called "soft money" from third party groups, PACs, and other special interests will certainly get involved in many of these House races, the disparity in fundraising is quite stunning. Take a look at the chart below — there is not a single Republican candidate who has raised even close to the totals compiled by their Democratic counterparts.

GOP-House-Fundraising3-2